Coping with traumatic injury is a long-term process, in which the survivor and their loved ones learn to function, and ideally accept their new circumstances. It is a subjective and often frustrating experience, in which each individual must sometimes implement strategies which do not work for them, in order to determine those that do. The nature of the traumatic injury further plays a predictive role in the individual’s coping process and road to recovery. Ultimately, coping styles are developed based on the individual’s character and life circumstances, to achieve optimal functioning and well-being.
Each individual’s adjustment is typically achieved in stages. Each stage will have its own benefits and challenges to be overcome. The survivor’s type of injury, personality style, and the amount of support they receive will contribute to the length of time it takes to progress from one stage to another. As time elapses, many questions will arise concerning how to implement the best care, which will enhance the survivor’s adjustment and well-being.
Resiliency is a term which relates to coping in that it describes the ability of the injured individual to adjust to their new circumstances. It is a concept which has been closely studied for its relatedness to traumatic events. Resilience is enhanced through a strong support network, realistic expectations, a positive self-concept, and good ability to manage powerful feelings.
In general, coping with traumatic injury involves being aware of common expectations and natural stages of adjustment. Meeting the physical needs of the patient will be followed by various, often complicated, emotional needs. Each individual will adopt their own coping style, which will largely dictate the level and speed at which they achieve optimal functioning. Ultimately, coping involves accepting the reality of the situation, grieving what has been lost, relying on others for support, and achieving a subjective sense of closure.